Emma Atkinson Breaks VTech Record At 3rd “Belt Challenge” Meet (Race Videos)

Virginia Tech Hokies “Belt Challenge” Intrasquad #3

The Virginia Tech Hokies have concluded the 3rd intrasquad of the annual “Belt Challenge” with team Orange leading over last year’s champion, team Maroon. The Challenge, consisting of 4 intrasquad dual meets, gives us some insight to how the Hokies are swimming in the days leading up to the start of their regular season on November 7th at Duke.

2020 Belt Challenge Series:

  • September 24th – Intrasquad #1, Short Course Yards, Tie
  • October 4th – Intrasquad #2, Long Course Meters, Orange won
  • October 24th – Intrasquad #3, Short Course Yards, Orange won
  • January 9th – Intrasquad #4

This intrasquad meet was sanctioned, so these times will count for USA swimming. However, the way the meet and its results had to be set up in order to be sanctioned meant that team scores had to be manually calculated and the team each swimmer competed for is not included in the meet results. This set-up did allow for the teams to mix-and-match swimmers on the relays though, creating some very fast swims that may better represent relay setups for their regular season. The team also raced in tech suits for this dual meet to help them readjust to the feeling, after not suiting up since March when the coronavirus pandemic cancelled NCAA’s.

As we compare times from the two short course dual meets (#1 and #3), the level of improvement this Challenge shows over the course of one month is impressive and team-wide. 

“I could not be prouder of the way our Hokie Team has embraced the Challenge and the way they swam today,” head coach Sergio Lopez said in an email.

“They are really using every opportunity to challenge themselves and to help raise the level of the team. I know it is very early in the season but I have a good feeling about the end of this 2020-21 season for both men’s and women’s teams.” 

Dual #3 Individual Team Scores:


  • Orange – 142
  • Maroon 107


  • Orange – 135
  • Maroon – 114


  • Orange – 277
  • Maroon – 221

Women’s Meet

Freshman Emma Atkinson (Maroon) swam faster and faster throughout the month-long Belt Challenge. Atkinson finished dual #3 with 4 more victories, 4 more best times, and a school record: 

  • Her 50 back split on the 200 medley relay was a 24.75
  • 100 back – 52.52 
  • 200 back – 1:52.71
  • Her 50 free split on the 200 free relay was a 23.57

Her blistering 200 back broke both the Virginia Tech record and their pool record, while her 100 back established another new pool record for the Hokies. Maroon may not have won the Challenge, meaning the team will not get to engrave their names onto the prestigious Hokies Belt, but Atkinson’s best times in the 50 and 100 back stamped her name on the VT All-Time Top Performers list in 2nd place.

For comparison, in dual #1, her victory in the 100 back was with a time of 53.17, about .65 seconds slower than where she finished in dual #3 after a month of training. From dual #1 to dual #3 Atkinson improved her 200 back time by 2.3 seconds and her lead-off 50 back on the 200 medley relay by .18 seconds after swimming a lifetime best at dual #1.

Caroline Bentz, another class of 2024 member, also earned spots on the VT All-Time Top Performers list, in the 100 back (7th) and 200IM (8th.) She showed up strong for team Orange in the sprint stroke events, splitting a 29.36 in her breaststroke leg on the 200 medley relay.  Then she turned around and snagged 2nd place in the 100 back with a 53.60 (.14 off of her best time). Only one month ago, in the same event during dual #1, Bentz touched the wall at 55.39.

Bentz also won the 200IM with a 2 second time drop, touching the wall at 2:00.64. She finished the meet with a 23.31 50 free split on the 200 free relay.

Senior Joelle Vereb was a vital part of the winning 200 free relay, alongside Bentz, as she split a 22.88. Earlier, Vereb swam her 50 fly leg of the medley relay in 23.27. She also raced a speedy 100 breast (1:01.04) and 100 fly (53.38), finishing 1st in both events for team Orange.

Two days before the intrasquad, Chase Travis, the #16 recruit on SwimSwam’s list of top recruits in her freshman class, won the 5K open water race at the West Coast Open Water Championships. Unfazed by fatigue, Travis then claimed spot #4 on the list of VT All-Time Top Performers by winning the 1000 free at the intrasquad with a 9:53.93. This is 20 seconds faster than her 1000 free from the 1st intrasquad of the Challenge.

Travis pulled off an impressive double-swim by placing 2nd in the 200 free (1:50.90) only 10 minutes after her victory in the 1000. She also won the 500 free (4:52.21), taking 7 seconds off of her time from intrasquad 1, and scoring more points for team Orange. 

Other event winners in the women’s challenge:

  • Sophomore Rose Pouch won the 200 free (1:50.46).
  • Morgan Miller, also a sophomore, took 1st in the 200 fly at 2:02.50.
  • Sophomore Julia Smith touched 1st in the 200 breast at 2:22.65.
  • Julia Bruneau won both the 50 free (23.31) and 100 free (50.73).

Race Video: Women’s 50 Free

Men’s Meet

Junior Blake Manoff started the meet off on the right foot for Maroon with a 50 fly split of 20.81 on the 200 medley relay. He followed that with a 1:42.90 in the 200 fly and won the 100 fly with a time of 46.50.

Manoff has also shown significant progress throughout the Belt Challenge. His 50 split on the relay last weekend was .48 seconds faster than his time at dual #1. His 100 fly victory (46.50) was an entire second faster than his time from the 1st dual meet. At the ACC’s last season, Manoff  finished 4th in the 100 fly with his best time of 45.60 and 2nd in the 200 fly with his best time of 1:40.48.

On the 200 free relay, Manoff split the 2nd fastest 50 free of 19.56 which is nearly 1 second faster than his split in the same relay at dual #1. This is also much faster than his time at the ACC’s last year (20.55).The only one faster than Manoff last weekend was their anchor Thomas Hallock who split a 19.39.

That was the 3rd 50 free Hallock swam that day. Earlier, he anchored the 200 medley relay with an even faster 50 free split: 19.31. In the individual 50 free he placed 2nd (20.11). 

Youssef Ramadan, a freshman on team Orange, cranked out fast time after fast time. He split a 20.59 50 fly on the medley relay, then followed that with a 44.31 100 free for 2nd place. For Ramadan that was about 4 seconds faster than the time he swam at dual #1. 

He touched the wall .30 seconds behind Yusuke Legard, and just ahead of Hallock. Ramadan then swam a 100 fly in a time of 47.85 and finished the meet with a 19.85 split in the 200 free relay. His 100 fly was .37 faster than his time from the first dual meet.

Junior Dylan Eichberg had a tough lineup as well. He swam a 21.17 on the fly leg of the 200 medley relay and then won the 200 IM with a 1:46.32. Eichberg touched the wall 3rd in the 200 fly at 1:45.02, and split a 20.64 on the 200 free relay. 

 From dual #1 to the dual #3, Eichberg dropped over 3 seconds in his 200 fly and nearly 4 seconds in his 200IM.

Other event winners in the men’s challenge:

  • Jonathan Rutter touched 1st in the 200 free at 1:37.03.
  • Samuel Tornqvist won the 100 back (47.58) and the 200 back (1:43.72).
  • Ilya Evdokimov won the 100 breast (53.73) with sophomore AJ Pouch close behind (54.16).
  • Evdokimov and Pouch finished 1-2 again in the 200 breast with times of 1:55.81 and 1:56.51 respectively.

Race Video: Men’s 50 Free


Both team Orange and team Maroon gained a diver from the last intrasquad. This time on the women’s side Regan Westwood represented Maroon while Orange retained Teagan Moravek and Izzi Mroz. For the men, Maroon kept Noah Zawadzki and Joe Perreault while Taj Cole competed for Orange. 

Similar to dual #2, Moravek won both the 1-meter event (335.10 points) and 3-meter event (333.38 points.) Westwood and Mroz battled it out in the 1-meter for 2nd and 3rd place respectively, separated by less than one point. The results flipped in the 3-meter event where Mroz took 2nd (327 points) and Westwood placed 3rd (229.43 points.)

On the men’s side, Zawadzi dominated the 1-meter event and won with 387 ponts. Perreault claimed 2nd (307.65 points) and Cole 3rd (203.03 points.) 

Then, Cole took charge in the 3-meter event where he snagged 1st place by less than 1 point. Zawadzki placed 2nd with 376.75 points and Perrault finished 3rd (344.85 points.)

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

1 Comment
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Emma Atkinson
3 years ago

VT women are about to do great things this season👀

Last edited 3 years ago by Emma Atkinson

About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

Read More »